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Joan McClendon

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The Armenian Genocide:
Joan McClendon's Family Story


In 1890 my grandmother Nazalie Minassian, was taken from her family and given to a turkish family. They tatooed they check and hand and forced her to work for this family. She was only 11 years old. Her family were forced from their home and eventually made their way Egypt. They were from Intep. I was told that all the people that could hide out in the Armenian Church, and the Turkish soldiers came and burned the church. Some of the people were able to escape, my grandmother and her family among them. However the soldiers caught them and took my grandmother. She escaped several years later and made her way to the island of Cypress. Her family heard that she was there and came to be with her. She came to the United States in 1909 and worked in the sweat shops and saved money to bring her parents here. She married Mihran Arjanian in 1911 and they had two children, one of whom was my mother Arax Arjanian Ainilian. My granmother was a remarkable woman. I know she was forced to endure unspeakable things while she was working in the home of the Turkish family, but she never spoke about it much, except to say that someday God would take care of things and make things right.

Joan McClendon
Tuesday, June 30, 1998 10:17 PM


I wrote you about my grandmother, now I would like to tell you about my father John Ainilian (Demerjian). He was from Intep, and in 1915, the soldiers came and started rounding up the Armenians. Being afraid, he ran to the orphanage where his older sister worked, and sought refuge. His parents were warned by turkish workers who were employed in his factory. They brough him horses and led him to safety, and they eventually made their way to Alleppo Syria. However, my father and his sister and her two children were deported along with the rest of the orphanage, and were marched to Der Zor. Only a handful survived, and he and his sister and her two children eventually made it to France, after surviving a refugee camp, and later came to the United States in 1920. His two brother came here in 1950, however he never saw his parents again. He was only nine years old! He said that to survive they had to eat grass, and other things that were barely eatable, and had to drink liquids you and I would consider disgusting. However many of the people on the march were slaughtered by the Turkish soldiers, and the soldiers never stopped the Kurds who swopped down on them, to plunder what little the Armenians had. Many of the caravans from the orphanages were taken to the caves at Der Zor and burned alive, however he did not remember this being the case with his caravan, they were only starved, and some of the children were taken and given to Arabs, or sold, and some were killed if they couldn't keep up. Thank you for viewing this, I never was able to tell him, how much I loved him, he dies suddenly in 1978.

Joan McClendon
Wednesday, August 12, 1998 11:22 PM




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